We’ve finished our player season reviews. Which player’s season did you enjoy the most? Who are you looking forward to seeing more of next season?
Doyle: In the grand scheme of things, I’m looking forward to what Jalen Brunson is capable of in his third season. His minutes fell in his sophomore season but his numbers remained consistent. Yet, it was pretty telling how much his presence was missed off the bench as a floor general when he went down with a shoulder injury. The bench really needs his production, however modest, to maintain a degree of consistency that it didn’t exhibit in the bubble. I know he’s well liked in the locker room and Rick Carlisle speaks highly of him, so he may—should—see a bigger role next season.
As a side note, I am curious to see what happens with Josh Reaves. He got a chance to spend a lot of time with the team in the bubble and even saw some some game action. I think he’s earned another two-way contract, but I’d like to see if the team thinks even more highly of him than that. When you actually look at the roster, Reaves is one the handful of players age 25 or under.
Matt: Doyle took the only interesting answer in Brunson and wants to force me in to the coward’s answer of Luka, but I won’t. Instead I will take the slightly less cowardly answer of Kristaps Porzingis.
This season brought us our first look at Kristaps Porzingis in a Mavericks’ jersey — delayed gratification fulfilled after the trade took place midway through the last season. We all knew who he was as a player before his injury, but anyone who tells you they know how an athlete responds after 20 months away from the sport is lying.There were still some rest days on back to backs, and he did miss some games with knee soreness (in his previously uninjured knee that robbed him of playoff games), but that he was able to come back and still look like the unicorn of old is a tremendous boon for the Mavs going forward. Having watched year after year of the front office swing and miss on adding a true, bonafide star next to Dirk, it appears as if they’ve gotten that piece in place in only Luka’s second season. Hard to state how good that feels.
Looking at next season, there’s of course the hope that Luka and KP take their on-court synergy to the next level, as it was a work in progress through a good part of this season. With any luck, KP will build on what he was able to do this year (which was already very solid) and truly becomes one half of a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses. Being just 25 years old and having put up impressive numbers in his “injury comeback” season are good indicators there’s more to come from KP next season.
Kevin: I loved Luka’s season the most. That’s the basic answer, right? Well it’s how I feel. Luka Doncic got some DOG in him, and every time we got to see it, my love for him grew.
As far as who I’m looking forward to next season...I think it’s Maxi. Maxi could be an incredibly important piece of this team moving forward. As we know, Maxi got an insane (LEAGUE LEADING) number of wide open three pointers this season. One more full off season of busting his ass working behind the arc should lead to another increase in his shooting percentages.
If Maxi can shoot 39 percent on 5 or 6 attempts per game next year, he becomes a game-changing, sixth-man-of-the-year type of player. This, obviously, would open things up even more for Luka and KP to do Luka and KP things on a wide open floor.
Sam: I’m going to go off the grid here and say Trey Burke’s season was the one I enjoyed the most. The story itself is fascinating. He was a throw-in in the Porzingis trade but looked exactly like the spark-plug guard Rick Carlisle has made use of for years. He then started the season in Philadelphia before being waived in February, only for the Mavericks to sign him in July as a replacement player right before departing for Orlando. It had all the makings of an insurance signing and nothing more. But in the very first game of the Bubble, Burke detonated for 31 points and never looked back. He leap frogged Delon Wright on the depth chart and was arguably the Mavericks most consistent second scorer against the Clippers. What a story.
Next season I’m most looking forward to watching Porzingis play. By all accounts this season was about acclimating him to the rigors of the NBA season. That plan mostly took effect, though it soured with the meniscus injury. However, I’m looking forward to seeing what Porzingis does with an offseason he (might?) won’t have to rehab while Carlisle gets an offseason to scheme Porzingis into the mix even further.
Kirk: Getting decisively proven wrong about Dorian Finney-Smith was really fun to watch. After three years of getting told that he was capable of shooting much better than he’d shown, DFS went out an nailed 37% of his threes and made an impact at both ends of the ball for Dallas. Granted, it’s safe to assign some of his improvement in shooting to the quality of looks he received from Luka Doncic, it was still outstanding to watch DFS bury a number of huge shots throughout the season.
Next year I’m looking forward to seeing more of Porzingis. Considering my skepticism with the trade and how well he ended up playing towards the end of the season, I’m excited to see what he can do given more time with the Dallas training staff.